Monte Rio’s third annual Día de los Muertos celebration welcomed folks of all ages to eat, dance, make arts and crafts and visit the community altar honoring late loved ones in front of the community center Saturday, Oct. 30.

Flowers arched over the center of the ofrenda, or altar, and lining the long table were candles, little skeleton figurines and photos of those who’d died in recent years.

Adults swayed to live music by Cumbia del Norte and there were tamales and candies for the taking. Families and elders of the Monte Rio community sat under tents making paper flowers and some dressed up in Halloween costumes. Older children found some mud to play in near the Russian River by the community center.

The Russian River Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence awarded a special grant that helped pay for the band at the event, which had been canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. The Friends of Monte Rio worked with River to Coast Children’s Services (RCCS) to create a culturally competent celebration, according to President Rhian Miller of Friends of Monte Rio.

RCCS is a child care resource and referral center in west county that employs an almost entirely bilingual staff and strives to serve Latinx families in an accessible way. Executive Director Soledad Figueroa gave feedback on how to authentically celebrate Día de los Muertos, like holding off on any piñatas.

In her position, she connected with Latinx families she knew in Guerneville and invited them out. Figueroa translated for volunteer Nayeli López that, for her, it was interesting to see even people of other cultures try to celebrate this holiday as well.

First and foremost, her daughter Alina said she had fun “porque había dulces” — because there were candies. The adults around her laughed and coaxed more information from Alina, who enjoyed costumes and colors she saw and las catrinas, the iconic skeletons in elaborate dresses and hats associated with Día de los Muertos.

Staff Writer

Camille graduated from Santa Rosa Junior College and Sacramento State, studying sociology and journalism. While jargon sometimes moves her to tears, she strives to “make it make sense” so people can get informed and get engaged.

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